Friday, May 20, 2011

Where to be Merry: BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit @ Annenberg Space for Photography

The Annenberg Space for Photography caught my eye when it first emerged on the Century City scene a couple of years ago. And while I’ve never featured a destination twice on this guide, after attending the media preview this past Tuesday for the space’s newest exhibit, BEAUTY CULTURE (below I’m pictured with Tyen Ting, one of the exhibit’s photographers who was there), I felt compelled to once again spotlight the space for bringing a new set of conversation-sparking photographs to the Westside.

I’m still struggling to find the right words that convey the raw thoughts and emotions that this exhibit and its accompanying documentary film by Lauren Greenfield stirred within me. Both exhibit and film push the concept of beauty into the spotlight, urging us to sincerely take a few moments to think about the role of physical appearance in our lives. From the multi-billion beauty industry that thrives off of our desires to be attractive (i.e. a product as basic as mascara) to whom we consider to be appealing (is it Naomi Campbell? Angel Lola Love?), the exhibit gives a profound glimpse into our culture’s obsession with glitz, glamour and good looks. And what’s revealed is that the incessant pursuit of beauty is more than a carefree mission; it can be grueling painful and it can turn into a destructive addiction with physical, social and psychological consequences.

What strikes me about the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibit is that it stays with you long after you’ve left it. The images remain embedded in your mind for hours after you’ve stopped looking at them. This exhibit makes you think – or at least it made me consider – what role beauty has had, should have and will have in our lives.

On a surface level, I highly recommend this exhibit as a display of lovely images, pleasing to the visual sensory. But it’s so much more than scores of beautiful women confidently gazing back at you in fierce poses; it’s truly an opportunity to intelligently dissect our personal relationship and bondage to “beauty.”

We all know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words:

What is the popular cultural perception of feminine beauty?

How many images will you recognize in the exhibit?

What defines your attractiveness?
From hair extensions, make-up, surgeries and toxins, how far will you go to attain physical perfection?

Will you try out the Make Over station? (You should – it’s fun!)
Perhaps I'll bump into you the next time I'm there!

Miss Wilson’s Tips
- The exhibit officially opens tomorrow, Saturday, May 21st
- Parking is validated so don’t forget to ask for a validation on your way out. Otherwise, you could easily shell out $34 for two hours.
- You absolutely must watch the documentary film! Personally, I suggest viewing it before going through the 170+ photographs. It truly sets the tone for the social constructions/messages behind each photo. Or even if you opt to view the photos before the film, I highly recommend revisiting the photos afterwards.
- The space is not open on Mondays or Tuesdays.

For more information:
Annenberg Space for Photography

2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10

Los Angeles, CA 90067


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